A Cthulhu reading primer
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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 9:36 am 
 

I must admit, I have never really gotten into Cthulhu.  But I was looking through some Field Guides I recently picked up and I thought it might be time to read some classic Cthulhu stories . . .

So, where should I begin?   I need a Cthulhu 101 course outline.


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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 10:15 am 
 

"So, where should I begin? I need a Cthulhu 101 course outline"

Start with Lovecraft...that's the real deal.
Some of my favorites are Shadow over Innsmouth and the Whisperer in the Darkness.

From what I've gathered, "Disciples of Cthulhu" is one of the most-well regarded compilations of short stories by other authors. It came out in the 70's but has been reprinted.

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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 11:34 am 
 

Sources of Lovecraft's Works is a good place to start looking.  

Of those I recommend the Arkham House texts, since they're the best texts to read (scholarly work to produce the best reading editions possible).  They're sometimes harder to find, so you can also check out these:

Del Rey had a paperback compilation Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror & the Macabre from the early 80s that's been reprinted several times (it has the b&w with red cover art by Michael Whelan that I was surprised to discover was actually by Whelan; I think the title was or somesuch).  

The Penguin The Call of Cthulhuand Other Weird Stories compilation has a good selection as well.  The Library of America edition is also good.

Joyce Carol Oates had a collection, but I don't see it listed, so it may be out of print.


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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 11:57 am 
 

Sorry for the dumb question, but I have been meaning to ask this for awhile,  so I figure that this is probably as good as any place as to ask.  CoC has kind of piqued(sp) my interest ever since the whole thing about stormber's auctions for the manuscripts.   What exactly is the setting for CoC. Is it in modern times? Or is it something medieval like D&D. Also, what is the rule base like. Just curious........


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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 12:09 pm 
 

bclarkie wrote:Sorry for the dumb question, but I have been meaning to ask this for awhile, so I figure that this is probably as good as any place as to ask. CoC has kind of piqued(sp) my interest ever since the whole thing about stormber's auctions for the manuscripts.  What exactly is the setting for CoC. Is it in modern times? Or is it something medieval like D&D. Also, what is the rule base like. Just curious........


the game i played about 20 years ago, was set in the 1920's. was fabulous fun, but i ended dying of fright believe it or not  :?

great fun tho - my character was a journalist, and my weapon was a baseball bat :D

if you aint played it, you should try it cos its a right blast! very atmospheric/gothic and you can set the scene really well for a really cool game.



  

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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 1:29 pm 
 

For CoC, they have three settings I know about.

1890's
1920's
Modern Day

In short, Victorian Era, Edwardian Era, and the Modern Day.  Slightly different feel for each, but it's all recognizably Cthulhu.

I'm not positive, but I do believe that there might be a Dark Ages setting as well.



  


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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 1:42 pm 
 

Yes, the Dark Ages setting was published in Germany originally, and then republished by Chaosium last year (or so).  There's also a book published by TOME (I think) caleld Out of the Aeons (I think), which has three adventures, one in Dark Ages times, on in Elizabethan London, and another more scifi one.  Chaosium's End Times monograph series tome is an ex-Pagan Publishing book (they make the best CoC stuff after 1989 in general) set in the modern/near future.  Pagan also has books/campaigns set in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as an excellent victorian book, The Golden Dawn.


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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 7:58 pm 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:I must admit, I have never really gotten into Cthulhu. But I was looking through some Field Guides I recently picked up and I thought it might be time to read some classic Cthulhu stories . . .

So, where should I begin?  I need a Cthulhu 101 course outline.


Read the Whelan cover collection others have spoken about...it has all the essentials.  You can wade into other lesser collections as necessary.  For the most part, the following stories are essential:

The Call of Cthulhu (if you have the recent Chaosium rulebooks, 5th edition and up, this story is reprinted herein)
The Whisperer In Darkness
The Dunwich Horror
Shadow Over Innsmouth
Colour Out of Space
Haunter of the Dark
Thing on the Doorstep
Dreams in the Witch House
Shadow out of Time
At the Mountains of Madness
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
The Festival
The Horror At Red Hook

There are other peripihal stories, but these mainly occur in Lovecraft Country (Arkham and thereabouts) and give a good feel for the setting.  Recent Chaosium collections are good, but the stories typically fluctuate wildly in quality.  I have read them all, I would suggest Disciples of Cthulhu 1 and 2, The Innsmouth Cycle, Cthulhu's Heirs.

Some individual stories not by Lovecraft that give a lot of the mythos and mood are Hounds of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long, The Black Stone and Pigeons from Hell (Robert E. Howard), Black Man With a Horn (T.E.D. Klein), Jerusalem's Lot (Stephen King), Throne of Bones (Brian McNaughton), Legion From the Shadows (Karl Edward Wagner). Avoid many of the slavish Lovecraft imitations done by those such as Derleth, Lumley, Lin Carter..  

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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 8:54 pm 
 

I know it was mentioned above, but pick up Robert E. Howard's short story paperbacks. There are several around and real easy to get; used book stores, ebay, etc... The Howard Collector is one. Although, we all want to think Conan with Howard, some of his best stuff is Lovecraftian short stories set in the early 1900s or even late 1800s.

We also played CoC nearly 15-18 years ago and stuck pretty much to the 1920 time frame. It sure was fun.

Another great tool is the Chill RPG (Pacesetter not the Mayfair crap). We loved that game and I actually still have it with some of the original modules.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

Everything Pacesetter at http://pacesettergames.blog.com/

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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 9:14 pm 
 

CoC is a great system... I remember playing it in the early-mid eighties, and either dying or going insane in nearly every adventure. The problem I think was taking a D&D attitude into a game that doesn't suit it... every time we found anything odd, we'd all charge in, firing and swinging wildly.

We played it at a Con one time... MaquarieCon, if anyone from Sydney remembers it, prob around 1985/86. The session was scheduled from midnight till 6am, and the Dm was remarkably adept at setting the scene so it was a fantastic adventure. Needless to say there were few survivors and we didn't make an appearance at the prize giving.

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Post Posted: Thu May 26, 2005 11:46 pm 
 

The funniest thing to watch when playing a CoC scenario with a transplanted D&D gamer playing CoC for the first time is how the D&D gamer immediately goes for the "magic items" while all the veteran CoC players know better and snicker.   :wink:

CoC is a great game with a very different feel from D&D, which of course makes it well worth seeking out.  It's probably my third favorite RPG of all time, beaten out only by D&D and Empire of the Petal Throne (Tekumel).

  

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Post Posted: Fri May 27, 2005 2:39 am 
 

Loved the Cthulhu system - both the system and the adventures were structured to give a sense of utterly impotence to the puny players... I remember major bloodsheds at the end of the adventures... and some major player character rerolling afterwards.

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Post Posted: Fri May 27, 2005 5:02 am 
 

grodog wrote:Yes, the Dark Ages setting was published in Germany originally, and then republished by Chaosium last year (or so). There's also a book published by TOME (I think) caleld Out of the Aeons (I think), which has three adventures, one in Dark Ages times, on in Elizabethan London, and another more scifi one. Chaosium's End Times monograph series tome is an ex-Pagan Publishing book (they make the best CoC stuff after 1989 in general) set in the modern/near future. Pagan also has books/campaigns set in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as an excellent victorian book, The Golden Dawn.


1920s is the default setting where most of the Lovecraft stories take place and the most adventures/accessories are published for that setting. It does capture the Lovecraft feel best IMO.

Though I have recently played two very cool one shot adventures from Out of the Aeons, one was set in the far future on a spaceship, the other in post-cthulhu-apocalyptic Shanghai (either now or near future.).

  


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Post Posted: Fri May 27, 2005 6:36 am 
 

there are a series of discussions on yog-sothoth.com about what times are/aren't suitable for Call of Cthulhu.  here is one...

Sorry, we couldn't find what you're looking for...

  

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Post Posted: Fri May 27, 2005 7:09 am 
 

this has all got me wanting to play cthulhu again now :)

right. in order to play a game of CoC in the 1920's again, what is the minimal material i would need - and of course a nice module too...

thx

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Post Posted: Fri May 27, 2005 8:30 am 
 

Well, all you need is a basic rulebook and some dice (the rulebook has a few introductory scenarios).

There are a few popular campaigns - each with a good few interlinked (and increasingly horrifying/dangerous) adventures.  

- Masks of Nyarlathotep
- Shadows of Yog-Sothoth
- Spawn of Azathoth

Recommended but out of print are:

- Horror on the Orient Express (box set)
- Beyond the Mountains of Madness (enormous adventure set in Antarctica)

I would also recommend the Arkham city sourcebook - which provides a good base for investigators and plenty of intriguing NPCs as well as a few more adventures.

Have fun  :D  :D

  

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Post Posted: Fri May 27, 2005 9:31 am 
 

cheers reddy!

*goes off looking for said books*



  

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Post Posted: Fri May 27, 2005 1:51 pm 
 

red_bus wrote:Well, all you need is a basic rulebook and some dice (the rulebook has a few introductory scenarios).

There are a few popular campaigns - each with a good few interlinked (and increasingly horrifying/dangerous) adventures.

- Masks of Nyarlathotep
- Shadows of Yog-Sothoth
- Spawn of Azathoth

Recommended but out of print are:

- Horror on the Orient Express (box set)
- Beyond the Mountains of Madness (enormous adventure set in Antarctica)

I would also recommend the Arkham city sourcebook - which provides a good base for investigators and plenty of intriguing NPCs as well as a few more adventures.

Have fun :D :D


Some good suggestions!  

Alan;

I am a huge CoC fan from way back (I bought the original boxed set off the shelf and played it!) so I feel I should offer some suggestions and critiques...!

Shadows of Yog Sothoth: Just was re-released as a new edition, it probably plays better than the older editions.  Very much a product of it's time, it reminds of the difference between say a 1st edition D&D adventure and a 3rd edition D&D adventure, but not really in a good way!  Very crude and not detailed consider the level of expertise that goes into the later adventures, but it's not bad.

Masks of Nyarlathotep: By far the best campaign ever released for CoC.  There exists several editions, the latest one is the best, but any are completely playable. Absolutely essential.

Spawn of Azathoth: I think this is also being re-released or has already.  Very over rated. Skip this, there are tons better CoC items.

Horror on the Orient Express:  Horribly expensive (you won't pay under $50 for this under any circumstances, even a beat up copy) and a bit over rated, I wouldn't consider this essential at all.  I've never actually played this one to see how it gamed, but I seem to remember the scenarios are very uneven.  I don't think it's worth the money.

Mountains of Madness:  I can't WAIT to run this one someday.  It looks great, and has probably the most incredible level or detail of ANY rpg product ever released (down to the ship manifests!).  But again you won't get this under $50 (probably more like $100 these days). But once again, essential, but note it takes place in the 1930's I believe (after the events in Lovecrafts store Mountains of Madness).

Arkham Unveiled supplement: Be sure you get the FULL supplement, not the "Compact" version that leaves out the scenarios.  This item is essential and probably will get more use than any other just from reading the descriptions.

For my recommendations, I really think the "Lovecraft Country" series are must haves. These all take place in Lovecraft's locales and are lovingly detailed with tons of mini adventures and such.   The D20 versions are actually the best printings as they have extra adventures, but the older editions are fine also.  These are: Return to Dunwich, Escape From Innsmouth, Kingsport, and Tales of the Miskatonic Valley.

I would also recommend the adventure collections The Great Old Ones, Fatal Experiments, and Fearful Passages (all by Chaosium).

BTW these collections all take place in the 1920s.

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Post Posted: Fri May 27, 2005 2:21 pm 
 

I would also highly recommend the following Pagan Publishing releases:

  • Delta Green (modern CoC with an X-Files flair; it predates the XF by about a year)
  • Grace Under Pressure (one of the best modern CoC scenarios ever published)
  • Walker in the Wastes (an excellent 1920s campaign)
  • The Golden Dawn (an excellent 1890s campaign)

Pagan's The Unspeakable Oath fanzine set the standard for modern CoC magazine publishing (and includes many of my product reviews, if you're curious ;) ).[/list][/list]


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Post Posted: Fri May 27, 2005 2:26 pm 
 

Hey All, What is the rule set like for CoC. Is it stat/ability based like D&D or is it different?


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